Ten things you should know about Angola
There are certain things you should know about Angola, some are funny others are just different or weird. Every country has its own characteristics that turns it unique, and sometimes only the people who live in the country understand them, Angola is no exception. Language is important (OK, it’s important in every country) so is necessary to know some words. We are Portuguese, we speak the same language, but even speaking the same language sometimes we don’t understand jokes, some local expressions or when they speak very fast with strong accent.
10 facts about Angolan’s you need to know:
1. Every Friday is “men’s day” – “dia do Homem“, according to them it’s a day of party and go out drinking with their friends, while their girlfriends or wife’s stay at home. They leave work at 16h00, sometimes only return home by Sunday.
2. Angolan are crazy about Music and dancing. Kizomba, tarraxinha, semba, and kuduro are their main music genres. There is a whole culture of kizomba in Angola, kids learn to dance since they start walking. You see the street sellers dancing in the middle of road… Dancing is part of being Angolan
Semba is a high tempo very energetic, fast paced and upbeat music. It’s a dance that gets its name from “Masemba”, a word which means “a touch of the bellies”, the motion that characterizes this type of dancing. Semba is primarily Carnival Music, some people even say that the Brazilian dance “Samba” is a derivation of Semba.
Kizomba is a slower and more sensual derivation of Semba. The word Kizomba in Kimbundu language, one of the most spoken languages in Angola means “party.” Kizomba was also influenced by Cuban Son, Milonga and Tango, during the presence of Cubans during the Civil War and therefore Kizomba has been described as the “African Tango”.
Some times Kizomba is combined with tarraxinha, that is a sensual and slow movement. Taraxinha dancing partners are locked in a rather tight, sensual embrace and dance in a very slow manner, almost not moving.
Kuduro is an Angolan music genre and that combines Caribbean music like zouk and soca with Africa percussion sounds. The name of the dance refers to a peculiar movement in which the dancers seem to have hard buttocks. The history of kuduro has come about in a time of Angolan civil unrest, and provided a means of coping with hardship and positivity for the younger generation.
3. In Angola there are thousands of street sellers, they are everywhere even between the cars in the middle of the street. From food and drinks to car spares, from school manuals to toilet paper, from toilet seats to cell phones, from suits to invoice books, you can buy anything. Angola has a lot of traffic, so it’s easy to do your shopping along the road on your way home/work. Besides this, Angolan often have some sort of side business, which they actually call “business”. This business usually means buying stuff overseas and selling them in Angola.
4. In sign of respect they call the elderly “big daddy” or “big mother”, “mãe grande” and “pai grande” in Portuguese. Even if you aren’t an elderly, but just a person they cherish and respect they’ll call you mother. Everyone is called aunty (tia) or uncle (tio) to the kids. Some people when asking you for something will call you godfather (padrinho) or godmother (madrinha).
5. Angolan man and women are very very vain. Women often go to the hairdresser every week, and change their visual nearly every weekend, and when we say change visual we mean change it radically!! Sometimes you don’t even recognize the same person from one week to another. From short hair to long, from brown to any other color. Men like to have their shoes spotless. Through the street we can find shoeshiners so you can have your shoes always shiny. Women like polished nails, and the bigger the better. Man likewise fix the nails, but they just use transparent nail polish. Normally it’s street boys that have a basket and offer the service who paints the nails. The Chinese also provide that service but usually have nail saloons.
6. Funerals… even if you are distant family, like uncle of your uncle, it’s mandatory your presence. A funeral can last 7 days, with several rituals, but normally it includes a big feast with a lot of food and drinks, and they have to provide food for all the family that came and visit. So the concept of the funeral is a feast or a party. It’s a very unusual way of grieving for our Western/European ways.
7. Proposing day or “Alambamento” is a huge thing!! There is a big party with the whole family where the boyfriend asks for the hand of his girlfriend. The groom goes to the bride house, asks for the hand of his girlfriend to the family and he must get the bride’s family approval. Before the proposing day he is given a list of what he must be able to obtain until the day of the proposal. The groom-to-be is expected to offer a huge variety of gifts, depending on what the family stipulates. The gifts usually include money, the bride height in beer boxes, bride’s height in juice pallets or cokes, one goat, one gold necklace, a suit for parents and shoes for the mother (If you want to marry a Angolan woman make sure you choose a short one). But the gifts can vary from family to family, the richer/more important the family of bride, the bigger the requests will be.
9. “Candongueiros” (private shared taxis) is the name given to the van (usually a Toyota Hiace) painted in blue and white and serve as taxis, transporting people between different spots. It’s the public transport in Angola, there are no stipulated stops, normally they stop anywhere and everywhere, advertise in the window where they are going to. Generally the price is 100 Akz (a bit less than 1USD). Seldom candongueiros have very bad driving habits, doing the most weird and unimaginable things (like driving in the sidewalk).
10. There are some funny Angolan expressions, probably funnier for Portuguese speaking people, but we will try to explain:
- First of all saying good morning and good night is vital, people expect you to say it even if you don’t know them, and the Angolan always reply “obrigado, sim” that is “thank you, yes”.
- When wanting to say “no” Angolan people usually don’t say “NO” when you ask them a question, they say “ainda” which means “yet”;
- When something is cool, they say “está cuiar” and my friend is “meu kamba“, When the are surprised they say “ché”.
- The word qué (which mean What) is used for literally everything. Sometimes you are told things like: the “what” is near the…”what”
- They like to use “só” (which means “only”) after the verb, every verb…For example, “give only”, “call only”. It’s as weird in Portuguese as it sounds in English 🙂
Have you ever been in Angola? What do you think about these facts? Do you know any other interesting facts?
Note: after the huge success of this post we decided to make a second one. Check here.